There is an Italian seasoned Panko sold at Cost Plus World Market that is out of this world. Pereg Italian Panko is one of an amazing line of products from Pereg Natural Products, an Israeli company. Other than Cost Plus World Market, I have not seen these products sold elsewhere and they must be mail ordered directly from the website.
The pasta with Panko and lemon I made recently was such a hit that I needed a followup. I am not sure there is anything that wouldn’t be absolutely delicious with crispy browned Panko crumbs on it these days. But this gratin — technically a French “tian” — honestly was so good that Nick told me it was the best thing I had ever made. Ever made!
I guess that’s good.
So here is the recipe, inspired in part by a lovely new cookbook I picked up at the San Francisco library’s used bookstore (Fast, Fresh and Green by Susie Middleton), right after shopping at Fort Mason’s farmer’s market on Sunday. The tomatoes and zucchini are still gorgeous in these parts so a gratin with Panko crumbs was on the menu.
I used a small 7×10 baking pan for this gratin, and it would probably fit nicely in an 8×8 baking pan too. If using a larger 9×12 baking pan just increase the volume of everything by about a third.
Serve this over angel hair pasta, quinoa, brown rice or any grain.
Tomato-Zucchini with Panko Crumbs
Serves 2 with leftovers
3 small zucchini squash, sliced into coins, slightly on the diagonal, thinly as possible
1 large or 3 small tomatoes, cored and sliced a little thicker into rings
1 medium onion, sliced into rings
Two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (omit if vegan)
1/4 cup minced parsley
4 cloves garlic, minced
Heat oven to 350-degrees.
Slice the tomatoes and put them on a plate with a little salt on them.
Slice the zucchini and toss with a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar in a bowl.
In a small skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic and swirl around in the hot oil until fragrant but not brown. Add the Panko crumbs, optional Parmesan cheese, minced parsley and a little more oil, mixing well until the crumbs brown up a little. Set aside in a bowl.
In the same small skillet add a little more olive oil and saute the onions over medium-high heat until they are brown on the edges and starting to soften. Place onions in the bottom of the baking pan.
Drain the accumulated fluid from the tomatoes and the zucchini so they are fairly dry.
On top of the onions, layer the zucchini, overlapping the slices a little. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Make a layer on top of that of the sliced tomatoes. Add a little more salt and pepper. Add a top layer of zucchini slices.
Now pour the Panko crumb mixture over the top evenly. Place the baking pan in the oven and bake for about 30-45 minutes until the top is evenly browned and the gratin is bubbly. Test with a knife to make sure the vegetables are crisp-tender under the crumbs.
Allow to sit for about 20 minutes to settle. Serve with pasta, quinoa or brown rice.